The Home and the World is a story of an explosive personal encounter steeped in the history of time. Comment

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The Home and The World makes the reader instantly aware of the importance of culture and tradition in Nikhil's household and the respect that Bimala, his wife, has for it, and the seeming protection it provides. 

Her husband is devoted to her and she to him but he wants her to know what is outside of her protected environment because, as he tells her, "You know neither what you have, nor what you want." Nikhil knows that he can demand his wife's loyalty but, contrary to tradition, he wants Bimala's love and devotion to be real and tells her that, "If we meet, and recognize each other, in the real world, then only will our love be true." He does recognize his own foolishness in placing "the fullest trust upon love" and will have to face the consequences, especially when he sees Bimala's infatuation with Sandip, but is accepting of his "fate."

Bimala at first prefers her status as a "caged bird." Her gratefulness for her position, despite not being beautiful, reflects the sentiments of the time. Without physical beauty, a woman was potentially doomed. Bimala is then happy to stay safe where she is. She knows that Nikhil will not make her go to Calcutta with him because it is not in his nature to abuse power, although she does sometimes wish that "my husband had the manliness to be a little less good." Women expected their husbands to be more dominant and Nikhil is aware that she thinks he exhibits "feebleness."  However, he finds that it is his friend, Sandip's beliefs that are lacking in substance. He questions Sandip's dubious motives when he tries "to pass off injustice as a duty, and unrighteousness as a moral ideal."

Bimala's initial dislike of Sandip soon turns into hero worship and she is soon "red with the passion of this new age" and overcome by Sandip's very charming and charismatic character. The reader has become part of this personal story while recognizing the traditions and restrictions which serve as protection but which they also flaunt. That Sandip, who calls himself and his cause, "flesh-eaters of the world," uses Bimala as his inspiration and calls her the "Queen Bee," cements the future of their relationship and Bimala's "divine strength" that she feels in his presence. Bimal almost feels invincible; something most unusual for a woman in her time and position.

Sandip's attitude to women could be taken as patronizing and self-fulfilling. He suggests women, who, historically, have been unable to learn or expand their potential in business, especially within the protected circles such as Bimala exists, understand so much more than men. He suggests that a powerful man, one who "wins" women, reveals "the power which wins the world of reality." Whilst the reader could be misled, this attitude lends itself to a stereotypical masterful male with some kind of ownership over women. 

Bimala becomes more confident and Nikhil, with his "misty vision of this world,", does not countermand his wife, much to Sandip's surprise.  Sandip relishes thrusting "aside veil after veil of obscuring custom," as Bimala becomes more overwhelmed by him, to the point that she will even steal for him. It takes a lot before Bimala realizes how generous and good her husband is, and how wise. 

The story ends with a seriously wounded Nikhil and a repentant Bimala which allows the reader to draw his or her own final conclusions. 

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